Authors: Campbell, SJ; Simmons, RW; Rickson, RJ


Cite As:
Campbell, SJ, Simmons, RW & Rickson, RJ 2013, 'Differences in the erodibility and hydrological response of slope forming materials from an iron ore mine, West Africa', in M Tibbett, AB Fourie & C Digby (eds), Proceedings of the Eighth International Seminar on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Cornwall, pp. 239-250,

Download citation as:   ris   bibtex   endnote   text   Zotero

Published data are sparse on the erodibility and hydrological response of slope-forming materials (SFMs) commonly found at iron ore mine sites, such as ore, soil and waste rock. This research critically evaluates the erodibility and hydrological response of 10 SFMs derived from an iron ore mine in West Africa. The SFMs were tested under both field-capacity and air-dry antecedent moisture conditions, indicative of soil moisture status both before and during the onset of monsoonal rains. The total volumes of runoff and of leachate generated by each of the SFMs when subjected to simulated rainfall were determined. The sediment load (TSL) of the runoff and leachate were also measured. Three replicates of each SFM at each antecedent moisture condition were prepared in 0.5 × 0.25 × 0.15 m erosion trays set on a 10 degree gradient. Each replicate was subjected to a design-storm of 100 mm hrˉ¹ for 30 minutes duration. Statistical differences in the measured erodibility (material eroded) and hydrological response were evaluated using One-way ANOVA with Post-hoc Fisher LSD, using STATISTICA software. Further, multiple-regression analysis (MRA) was used to correlate the physical and chemical properties of the SFMs with their erodibility and hydrological response under the design storm event. Properties included in the MRA were organic carbon, cation exchange capacity, pH, EC, density, particle size and dry-aggregate distribution, mineralogy and magnetic susceptibility. The weathered phyllite (PHY-WEA) waste-rock and colluvial soil (SRE) gave significantly higher runoff volumes when compared with all other SFMs. In contrast, with the exception of PHY-WEA and SRE, at both antecedent moisture conditions, all other SFMs gave significantly higher leachate as compared with runoff volumes. PHY-WEA also produced significantly higher TSL when compared with all other treatments, with mean values of 47.8 g and 165 g per erosion tray, respectively. This equates to TSC concentrations of 14.3 and 26.2 g l-1, which are well in excess of the mine water quality target of < 0.05 g l-1. The results of this research provide a greater understanding of the erodibility and hydrological response of ore, soil and waste rock SFMs. The research findings have important implications for the management and design of ore stock piles, waste rock dumps, sedimentation ponds and water discharge structures at mine sites. The MRA results demonstrate that variables including magnetic susceptibility, bulk mineralogy and dry aggregate distribution, which are not commonly assessed in erosion studies, are important parameters governing the erodibility and hydrological response of SFMs.

Andres, P. and Jorba, M. (2000) Mitigation strategies in some motorway embankments (Catalonia, Spain), Restoration Ecology, Vol. 8, pp. 268–275.
Boix-Fayos, C., Calvo-Cases, A., Imeson, A.C. and Soriano-Soto, M.D. (2001) Influence of soil properties on the aggregation of some Mediterranean soils and the use of aggregate size and stability as land degradation indicators, Catena, Vol. 44, pp. 47–67.
BSI (British Standards Institution) (2010) BS ISO 11277:2009, Soil quality: determination of particle size distribution in mineral soil material, method by sieving and sedimentation, London.
Dearing, J. (1999) Magnetic susceptibility, in Environmental Magnetism: A Practical Guide, J. Walden, F. Oldfield and J. Smith (eds), Quaternary Research Association, London.
Duiker, S.W., Rhoton, F.E., Torrent, J., Smeck, N.E. and Lal, R. (2003) Iron hydro (oxides) crystallinity effects on soil aggregation, Soil Science Society of America, Vol. 67, pp. 606–611.
Fala, O., Aubertin, M., Molson, J., Busssiére, B., Wilson, G.W., Chapuis, R. and Martin, V. (2003) Numerical modelling of unsaturated flow in uniform and heterogeneous waste rock piles, in Proceedings 6th International Conference Acid Rock Drainage, 12−18 July, Cairns, Queensland, Australia.
Figueiredo, M.D.A., Augustin, C.H.R.R. and Fabris, J.D. (1999) Mineralogy, size, morphology and porosity of aggregates and their relationship with soil susceptibility to water erosion, Hyperfine Interactions, Vol. 122, pp. 174–184.
Hawkins, J.W. (1998) Hydrological characteristics of surface-mine spoil, in Coal Mine Drainage Prediction and Pollution Prevention in Pennsylvania, K.B.C. Brady, T. Kania, M.W. Smith and R.J. Hornberger (eds), Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Penn.
Lal, R. (1998) Drop-Size Distribution and Energy Load of Rainstorms at Ibadan, Western Nigeria, Soil and Tillage Research 48, pp. 103−114.
Landon, J.R. (1991) Booker Tropical Soil Manual, John Wiley and Sons, New York.
Loch. R.J. (1994) A method for measuring aggregate water stability for dryland soils with relevance to surface seal development, Australian Journal of Soil Research, Vol. 32, pp. 687–700.
Loch, R.J. (2000) Using rainfall simulation to guide planning and management of rehabilitated areas, Part 1: experimental methods and results from a study at the Northpakes mine, Australia, Land Degradation and Development, Vol. 11, pp. 221–240.
Loch, R.J. and Foley, J.L. (1994) Measurement of aggregate breakdown under rain: comparison with tests of water aggregate stability and rain relationships with field measurements and infiltration, Australian Journal of Soil Research, Vol. 32, pp. 701–720.
Loch, R.J. and Rosewell, C.J. (1992) Laboratory methods for measurements of soil erodibilities (K factors) for the universal soil loss equation, Australian Journal of Soil Research, Vol. 30, pp. 233–248.
MAFF (Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food) (1986) Reference Book RB427: Analysis of Agricultural Materials, HSMO, London.
Moreno-de las Heras, M., Merino-Martin, L. and Nicolau, J.M. (2009) Effect of vegetation cover on the hydrology of reclaimed mining soils under Mediterranean-Continental climate, Catena, Vol. 77, pp. 39–47.
Nelson, D.W. and Sommers, L.E. (1996) Carbon and organic matter, in Methods of Soil Analysis, Part 3, Chemical Methods, D.L. Sparks (ed), Soil Science Society of America and American Society of Agronomy, Madison, Wisc., pp. 961–1,010.
Nimmo, J.R. and Perkins, K.S. (2002) Aggregate stability and size distribution, in Methods in Soil Analysis: Part 4, Physical Methods, D.H. Dane and G.C. Topp (eds), Soil Science Society of America, Madison, Wisc., pp. 317–328.
Omotoso, O., McCarty, D.K., Hillier, S. and Kleeberg, R. (2006) Some successful approaches to quantitative mineral analysis as revealed by the 3rd Reynolds Cup Contest, Clay and Minerals, Vol. 54, pp. 748–760.
Rhoades, J.D. (1996) Salinity, electrical conductivity and total dissolved solids, in Methods of Soil Analysis: Part 3, Chemical Methods, D.L. Sparks (ed), American Society of Agronomy, Madison, Wisc., pp. 417–435.
Rhoton, F.E., Romkens, M.J.M. and Lindbo, D.L. (1998) Iron oxides – erodibility interactions for soils of the Memphis Catena, Soil Science Society of American Journal, Vol. 62, pp. 1,693–1,703.
Smith, K.A. and Mullins, C.E. (2006) Soil Environmental Analysis: Physical Methods, 2nd ed. rev. and expanded, Marcel Dekker Inc., New York.
Smith, L., Lopez, D.L., Beckie, R., Morin, K., Dawson, R. and Price, W. (1995) Hydrogeology of Waste Rock Drainage, Final Report to Department of Natural Resources Canada, pp. 1–111.
So, H.B, Yatapanage, K. and Horn, C.P. (2002) Mine erosion: an integrated erosion and landscape design package for monitoring and modelling erosion from steep hillslopes on mine spoils, 12th ISCO Conference, 26–31 May, Beijing, pp. 36–41.
Thomas, G.W. (1996) Soil pH and soil acidity, in Methods of Soil Analysis: Part 3, Chemical Methods, D.L. Sparks (ed), American Society of Agronomy, Madison, Wisc., pp. 475–490.
Williams, D.J. (2001) Prediction of erosion from steep mine waste slopes, Environmental Management and Health, Vol. 12,
pp. 35–50.

© Copyright 2021, Australian Centre for Geomechanics (ACG), The University of Western Australia. All rights reserved.
Please direct any queries or error reports to